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SF commits millions to expand student mental health, wellness services

San Francisco is expanding its metal health and wellness programs for students in The City who are dealing with complex issues related to stress, trauma, suicide, bullying, depression, self-esteem and drug and alcohol abuse.

Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday that $3.5 million of this year’s budget has been allocated to help the San Francisco Unified School District expand health wellness programs at nine schools starting this fall.

Breed said in a statement:

“Middle school and high school can be a difficult time for a lot of students, and this funding will support programs that help students navigate and deal with the challenges they face in a healthy and safe way. With students now back to school, they should know that their city and the adults in their lives support them and want them to be healthy and happy.”

San Francisco’s Wellness Initiative currently serves all 19 high schools in the district and will now have resources to serve select elementary and middle schools.

According to the Mayor’s Office, every middle school in The City has limited mental health services for students, which includes one social worker and one nurse.

Of the $3.5 million, $2 million will be used to hire one wellness coach at each of the district’s nine middle schools deemed to be “high-potential” campuses. The coach will help provide students with counseling, case management and restorative practices to resolve conflicts and reduce harm.

The funding will also help expand mental health clinical services at 21 middle schools and provide one-on-one student therapy services. While all middle and high schools offer some sort of level of mental health services, there usually is a waitlist for access, the Mayor’s Office said.

Additionally, SFUSD will work with community-based organizations in order to serve students who require referral services.

Ching Wong/SFBay San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Vincent Matthews speaks during a press conference announcing traffic safety efforts for back to school week at Everett Middle School in Francisco, Calif., on Friday, Aug 17, 2018.

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said in a statement:

“Students who access wellness services tell us that they feel better about themselves, get along better with family and friends, are better able to cope when things go wrong, and come to school more often.”

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